Elections are, of course, referendums. They are reality checks. One of the reality checks we will witness during the Democratic primary will be whether Biden and “reset” voters are correct. Let’s lay out the case:
Reason #1: Social media makes it appear that we are more divided than we actually are.
I was struck by research by the University of Missouri
that analyzed 3,000 Twitter accounts over time to find “We are not necessarily getting farther and farther apart – it’s just the people in the middle are becoming more quiet and withdrawn.”
Anecdotally I find this to be true. Those not absolutely obsessed with politics just completely opt out. They also don’t subscribe to this newsletter. Are there enough of those people in the right places who will vote for the candidate that promises a return to “normalcy”?
Reason #2: President Trump has a character problem.
One takeaway from Trump’s victory is that character doesn’t matter anymore, so LOL #nothingmatters. But there’s another possibility: 2016 was a perfect storm for character to be ignored as an issue. President Trump’s opponent was viewed as just as untrustworthy. From Gallop
Democrats can enhance their odds of beating Trump in 2020 by nominating a candidate who is perceived as having a strong character. That is something they did not do in 2016, when Hillary Clinton was the Democratic nominee. She, like Trump, was widely thought to be dishonest and untrustworthy
, thus negating one of Trump’s obvious weaknesses and making character less of a factor in voters’ decision-making processes.
Joe Biden’s deep Catholic faith, openness about his personal tragedies, and lack of major personal scandals could be seen as the anti-Trump. And a return to “normal.” (Though his “touchy
” nature has caused some stir, it hasn’t been enough to move his polls.)
Reason #3: Barack Obama continues to enjoy favorable ratings.
And Obama-to-Trump voters (the ones that swung the election in key swing states) are cooling on the president, with support falling to 66%
It’s a good time to be viewed as the closet politician to Barack Obama…
There’s some irony here: Seeking a return to “normal” is another version of “Make America Great Again.” It’s an attempt to capture a past no longer possible in today’s America. But with comfort instead of coal mines.
I’m not sure the three reasons above are true. Or enough to win an election. But it doesn’t matter what we think. The first primary is less than a year away and the first debate is this month. We’ll find out soon enough.
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